Gators LB Chris Martin’s Facebook status a joke

Linebacker Chris Martin, a former five-star recruit who transferred to the Florida Gators after a short stint with California last year, was dismissed from the football team according to a status update he posted on Facebook on Friday. Except he was not dismissed from the team. Instead, Martin played what he called an “early April Fools” joke on “Facebook stalkers” and fans of Notre Dame and Florida State. What he may not have realized is that his comments also threw Florida fans for a loop.

Shortly after creating the status, Martin’s “joke” was spread across Twitter by hungry Gators writers (OGGOA included) trying to provide fans with the latest news.

The reaction was quick and divided.

On one hand, it was quite funny. In this day and age of social media becoming the predominant news medium, a single Facebook post from a football player on one of the top programs in the nation became major news in a matter of minutes. Martin may not have though out his joke well, but a person inside the program laughed when OGGOA immediately inquired about the “development.”

“He’s just trying to be funny,” the person said. “That’s Chris. Always playing.”

In a later status update, Martin pointed out what he feels is the absurdity of paid recruiting websites. “I swear, grown men pay money so they can see where we go to school and stalk us on Facebook,” he wrote.

OGGOA’s Twitter followers both praised (“Awesome. He got everyone worked up. That’s comedy.”) and panned (“It’s sad…and really dumb.”) what Martin did.

One could make an argument that he caused a lot of loyal Gators fans plenty of angst over those 15 or so minutes in which his post was lingering and not clarified.

When it all comes down to it, Martin attempted to mess with the media by making them think there was drop-everything-and-call-your-sources-immediately breaking news. Heck, that’s what OGGOA did. In reality, he created a story that, while neither “breaking” nor “important,” is most certainly newsworthy in its own right.

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Contributions from Young, Wilbekin make impact

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

Comparing the 2010-11 version of Florida Gators basketball with the team as it was constituted in 2009-10, it is quite obvious the group as a whole is drastically improved. In addition to playing better defense, something Adam previously touched on, Florida is shooting better and turning the ball over less.

Up 1.6 percent from the field (46-44.4 percent) and 3.3 percent from downtown (34.6-31.3 percent), the Gators are more efficient than they were last year, making approximately the same number of baskets per game in fewer attempts.

Where and why has this slight but integral positive change come from? For one, the returning players are showing a newfound cohesiveness. Then there is the departure of guard Ray Shipman (transferred to Central Florida) and forward Dan Werner (graduated). Sophomore F Erik Murphy and some of the other young reserves have stepped up to replace the minutes previously occupied by Shipman.

Statistics show that the greatest difference is the combination of losing nearly 30 minutes per game from Werner and adding the 35 combined minutes that emerging freshmen Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin have contributed.

Neither Werner last season nor Young and Wilbekin this year shoot the ball often, but the duo’s shot selection and efficiency have made their production markedly different.

Werner Young Wilbekin Young/Wilbekin
3PT 19/73 (26%) N/A 11/37 (30%) 11/37 (30%)
2PT 34/87 (39%) 40/69 (58%) 16/36 (44%) 56/105 (53%)
FG 53/160 (33%) 40/69 (58%) 27/73 (37%) 67/142 (47%)

In 30 games, Young and Wilbekin combined for 64.7 percent more two-point baskets (56) than Werner did (34) in 34 games; the duo has also hit 26.4 percent more overall field goals (67-53). From three-point range, though Werner made eight more than Wilbekin has so far, it took him 36 additional attempts to do so.

In the other aspects of their games, the Young-Wilbekin combo has eerily similar production to Werner’s last year:

Werner Young/Wilbekin
PTS 4.6 5.8
REB 4.1 5.0
AST 2.0 2.1
TO 1.5 1.4
STL 1.3 1.6

Standing out the most is Young’s penchant for blocking shots. He has 26 rejections in 30 games, which easily dwarf’s Werner’s five in 34 contests.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Gators to unveil Heisman winner statues April 9

The University of Florida announced Thursday that the three statues the school created to commemorate Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Tim Tebow (2007) will be unveiled outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at halftime of the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on April 9.

Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow will all “have a level of participation in the event,” according to the university, a statement that indicates a possibility that all three may not physically be in Gainesville, FL. Fans in attendance to watch the Florida Gators‘ spring game will be able to view the unveiling live on the scoreboards inside The Swamp.

“We are very proud to recognize the accomplishments of our Heisman Trophy winners,” said senior associate athletics director Chip Howard in a statement. “The statues will give our fans an opportunity to see and capture a real-life visual image of each of the storied athletes. We are grateful for the private donations that made the project possible. We are also thankful for the work and cooperation of the Campus Facilities Planning and Construction Department that assisted us in following University policy and procedure that helped bring this project to fruition. The sculptor, Sandy Proctor, was meticulous in every phase of the process and did a tremendous job bringing the likeness and personality to each of the statues.”

Each statue is 15 percent larger than life-sized and will feature the players in different stances. Tebow will have the ball tucked and in a running motion while Spurrier and Wuerffel will be dropping back to pass, The Gainesville Sun reported last June. In all, the statues cost approximately $550,000 – all funded by private donations.

“It was a huge, huge honor to think that they would be interested in putting those up. And certainly to be next to those two guys even makes it even more special for me – my coach and a friend. Hopefully we’ll have room for many more in the next few years,” Wuerffel told OGGOA during an interview in August 2010.

3/9: Players discuss upcoming SEC Tournament

As the No. 12/12 Florida Gators (24-6, 13-3 SEC) prepare for the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament, four of the team’s starters discussed the successful regular season while looking ahead to all of the game action ahead of them. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the media availability.

MOTIVATION TO PLAY AS A TEAM

At the start of the season, head coach Billy Donovan kept repeating that Florida was failing to come together as a cohesive unit and instead consisted of players who were worried about “getting their own.” Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton insists that all changed after UF dropped a tough neutral site game (in Orlando, FL) to Central Florida.

“We had a meeting – players only – we told each other it’s not about the individual. That’s going to come [in time],” he said. “After the UCF game, it made a lot of sense. We played selfish that game. After watching film, we had a meeting and we came together and said we had to play together as a team in order for us to get where we want to be. That was the start. Every game after that we came out and played as a team.”

Now the team is focused on maintaining that edge. “All we can do is stick together as a team and keep practicing hard and just be ready for the games,” junior point guard Erving Walker said. “It’s one and done now. We’re not going to be satisfied with just winning the regular season SEC. We want to do more things.”
Continue Reading » 3/9: Players discuss upcoming SEC Tournament

FOUR BITS: lacrosse’s big win, baseball’s rebound

1 » Don’t bother telling No. 14 Florida Gators lacrosse that you’re not supposed to upset a top-10 team in only your second year of existence. On Wednesday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL, Florida (5-1) took down the No. 9 Georgetown Hoyas (0-2) 17-10 for the program’s first win against an opponent ranked No. 10 or higher in school history. Leading the way once again for the Gators was sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen, who scored four goals on eight shots. Sophomore M Brittany Dashiell matched Cullen shot-for-shot, and sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns scored three goals and notched one assist. Florida out-shot Georgetown 32-19 on the evening and outscored them in both halves. The Gators’ current five-game winning streak is the longest in program history and could be stretched further as they have five games remaining on their nine-game home stand.

2 » Looking to bounce back from a stunning defeat to unranked Georgia Southern, No. 1 Florida baseball (11-2) rebounded in a big way with a 8-1 thumping of the South Florida Bulls (5-7) on the road at the USF Baseball Stadium in Tampa, FL. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis (1-0) only pitched 5.0 innings but struck out four and only gave up a single earned run during his outing. Offensively, the Gators were powered by a trio of home runs from junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (3-4, 2 RBI, 3 R), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-2, 2 RBI, 2 R) and senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, RBI, R). Zunino’s two-run shot in the top of the second put Florida on the board early and ended up being the game-winning hit, and Adams followed him with a solo shot giving the Gators back-to-back homers on the night. UF returns to Gainesville for a three-game weekend series against Rhode Island.

Two more BITS on softball improving to 21-0 and Florida basketball not being able to earn a No. 2 seed in March Madness…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: lacrosse’s big win, baseball’s rebound

Gators add commitment from 2012 PG Ogbueze

Florida Gators basketball’s 2012 recruiting class doubled in size Wednesday as four-star point guard Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) committed to head coach Billy Donovan.

Joining four-star shooting guard Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL), Ogbueze is Donovan’s second backcourt commitment for the 2012 cycle and the University of Florida’s highest-ranked point guard recruit since former five-star Nick Calathes. He is listed as the No. 7 player at his position by Scout and the No. 9 point guard in his class by Rivals.

“When I arrived on campus I was impressed with all the coaches, players and the beautiful campus,” Ogbueze told ESPN about his decision. “I want to learn my position from Coach Donovan, who has had great success with perimeter players and is a proven winner. Winning back-to-back national championships means a lot.”

Always holding the school in high acclaim, Ogbueze decided to attend Florida over offers from Oklahoma, Baylor, Tennessee, Wake Forest and South Carolina. Assistant coach Rob Lanier was heavily involved in his recruitment.

“Braxton Ogbueze approaches everything with excellence in mind,” his high school head coach Sean Wiseman told ESPN. “From the court to the classroom as well as his character, he tries to be the best at what he does. That’s what makes him special.”

The Gators already have five-star SG Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and three-star forward Walter Pitchford (East Lansing, MI) on board as members of their 2011 signing class.

Scout.com first reported Ogbueze’s decision.

Photo Credit: NY2LA

Florida spring practice will be closed to public

The Will Muschamp era of Florida Gators football will begin with a measure put in place that even former head coach Urban Meyer did not institute during his time in the orange and blue: 2011 spring practice will be closed to the public.

“With a new coaching staff here teaching our system, we feel like minimizing our distractions is important,’’ Muschamp said in an official statement. “We realize that there is high interest from the fans, and we are extremely appreciative of the support that The Gator Nation gives us. We hope that they understand that this decision has been made in the interest of helping our program be successful on Saturdays this fall by allowing our team to learn and develop together in this type of environment.

“We also respect that the media have a job to do and understand that this creates a challenge for them, so we ask for their patience with us as we work through our first spring practice here at Florida.’’

Fans will be able to get their first look at the new Gators team on April 9 at the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut spring game. The event will air live on Sun Sports beginning at noon. Tickets are free for students, Gator Boosters and members of the Alumni Association and F Club. A limited number of free tickets are available to the public; otherwise the cost is $5 per person.

Florida also announced Wednesday that Pro Day will be held for those players hoping to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft on March 15 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Among those expected to participated, according to UF, are center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black, punter Chas Henry and guard Carl Johnson.

OGGOA has previously been informed that running back Emmanuel Moody, defensive linemen Terron Sanders and Justin Trattou will also be participating along with a number of other former seniors/graduates.

In the past, Pro Day had been open to both the public and the media. This time around, only the media will be allowed to attend.

“Pro Day is an extremely important day for the career hopes of these players, and they’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy preparing for it,” Florida associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain said in a release.

“We feel that creating a more private environment and minimizing potential distractions will help give them the best chance to perform up to their potential. We also feel like it’s become more important than ever for us to monitor who is around our team and student-athletes, and taking this step provides us an even greater ability to manage that.”

Parsons, Walker recognized with more honors

Fresh of winning the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award from the league’s coaches, Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons earned additional recognition on Wednesday.

SportingNews tabbed Parsons as it’s SEC Player of the Year and selected him as one of the five member of its 2011 All-SEC First Team. The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Parsons to their 2011 All-District 21 First Team.

Also honored Tuesday was Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, who was given 2011 All-SEC Second Team honors by SportingNews and 2011 All-District 21 Second Team recognition by the NABC.

SportingNews chose former Florida assistant and Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant as the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year, an award the conference coaches presented to Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

The NABC’s District 21 is an area that covers the states of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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